Collage of Athletes

DEPRESSION AND OTHER MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES DO NOT MEAN WEAKNESS. TRUE STRENGTH LIES IN SPEAKING UP AND REACHING OUT.

Fame, fortune, accolades, championships, and Olympic medals don’t make you immune to depression. Like cancer, diabetes, or other physical health problems, psychological health problems can happen to anyone.

To break down the stigma that often surrounds topics relating to mental health, more and more professional athletes are sharing their stories of battling depression, anxiety, and a wide range of other psychological health issues. We commend these athletes and many others who’ve used their stories and public platform to stimulate conversation, encourage help-seeking, and provide hope, letting others with psychological health problems know they are not alone.

Learn how to reach out or support a friend.

For more information and resources for athletes on mental health, check out UBCAthletesHub.ca.

1. Andrew Jensen

Photo via Andrew Jensen

“I believe my emotional scars are no different than my physical ones. I believe it’s just as masculine to talk about overcoming emotional pain as it is to talk about overcoming physical pain.”

Professional golfer, Canada
Men: It’s OK to Stop Hiding That You’re Struggling

2. Kevin Love

Photo by Keith Allison, Flickr

“What I’ve learned is no one’s immune to depression. Nobody’s immune to anxiety.”

NBA basketball player, US
Kevin Love talks anxiety, depression and the time he thought he was going to die mid-game

3. Corey HirschBlack and white portrait of Corey Hirsch

Photo by Roman Knertser/The Players’ Tribune

“If you are in a dark place right now, thinking that you can’t go on anymore, I know you probably cannot foresee these kind of things in your future. But your brain is lying to you. It’s lying. There is a light, however faint, in all this darkness. There is help out there for you. There is hope. I swear to God, hope is real. You will reach the light.”

NHL goalie, Canada
(On obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, and depression)
Dark, Dark, Dark, Dark, Dark, Dark, Dark, Dark

4. Phil GaimonPortrait of Phil Gaimon

Photo by Connor Mah, Flickr

In the small chance that this would make it easier for someone who needs help to admit it and find it, I’ll go ahead and say that I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety and whatnot and I’ve gone to therapy and my only regret was how long I waited.” (via Twitter)

Road racing cyclist, US
6 Pro Cyclists Open Up About Their Struggles With Depression

5. Dwayne Johnson

Photo by Eva Rinaldi, Flickr

“We all go thru the sludge/shit and depression never discriminates. Took me a long time to realize it but the key is to not be afraid to open up. Especially us dudes have a tendency to keep it in. You’re not alone.” (via Twitter)

Actor, producer and professional wrestler, US
“The Rock on Depression: ‘You’ve Got to Talk About It, and You’re Not Alone'”

6. Brandon MarshallBrandon Marshall, helmet on

Photo by Brooke Ward, Flickr

“I spent three months in the outpatient program at McLean, and in my time there, I learned the tools and skills to help me cope with my emotions. I learned different meditation techniques, and I spoke with doctors and counselors about what I was feeling to get a better understanding of where my emotions were coming from and how I could most effectively react and respond to them….Those three months changed my life.”

NFL wide receiver, Co-founder of Project 375, US
(On borderline personality disorder (BPD) and depression)
“The Players’ Tribune: The Stigma”

7. Demar DeRozen

Photo by Keith Allison, Flickr

“I just want to do my part to make sure there is zero shame or stigma for anyone working to make their mental health a priority.” (via Twitter)

NBA basketball player, US
DeRozan continues to advocate for mental health

8. David Freese

Photo by Keith Allison, Flickr

“I know I had the alcohol issues in the past, but you come to realize it’s a lot deeper than that. It’s depression and anxiety issues. I had to attack the way I was thinking. I re-trained my brain by being around Mairin and getting help. The foggy feeling I always had is now lifted.”

MLB third baseman, US
David Freese, World Series hero, finds greater triumph in depression battle

9. Brent Hayden

Photo by Angelo Cikes, via TEDxLangleyED

Between my injuries in the pool, and the toxicity outside the pool, I was feeling closed in and began spiralling into depression. Other than my coach and my wife (then fiancée), nobody knew that I had my team psychologist on call… we were often meeting twice a week.

Competitive swimmer, Canada
Brent Hayden’s Olympic Comeback (video)

10. Tyler MotteTyler Motte coming onto ice

Photo by Vancouver Canucks, Twitter

“For me, just accepting and saying out loud that I was diagnosed with depression and had a mental health issue that was the first weight off my shoulders.”

NHL forward, US
Hockey Talks | Tyler Motte’s Story (Video)

11. Michael PhelpsMichael Phelps in pool

Photo by Andy Miah, Flickr

I struggled with anxiety and depression and questioned whether or not I wanted to be alive anymore. It was when I hit this low that I decided to reach out and ask for the help of a licensed therapist. This decision ultimately helped save my life. You don’t have to wait for things.” (via Twitter)

Competitive swimmer, US
“The moment Michael Phelps knew he needed help battling depression”

12. Channing FryeChanning Frye on the court

Photo by Erik Drost, Flickr

“What worked for me was just having a time and a place to be emotional and to open up about how I felt and to acknowledge that I’m not okay.”

NBA basketball player, US
Channing Frye Talks Depression and How He Balances Life and Basketball

13. Robin LehnerRobin Lehner in net

Photo by slgckgc, Flickr

I want people to know that there is hope in desperation, there is healing in facing an ugly past and there is no shame in involving others in your battle. It is time to take the ‘crazy person’ stamp from bipolar disorder.

NHL Goalie, Sweden
‘I could not stand being alone in my brain’: Islanders goalie Robin Lehner opens up about his addiction and bipolar diagnosis

 

14. Brandon BrooksBrandon Brooks on field

Photo by Philadelphia Eagles, Twitter

“When it comes to mental health issues, the biggest thing is to embrace and accept it and understand why in order to attack it. It’s really no different than pulling a hamstring. You’ve got to go in the trainers room and put ice on it and do all these different exercises. It’s the same thing mentally. You want to make sure that people understand that it’s something that 1, you can attack and it can get better, and 2, that just by hoping it gets better, that’s not necessarily the best strategy. It’s OK to seek help, it’s OK to get help, and it will get better.”

NFL guard, US
How Brandon Brooks’ battle with anxiety has helped me come to grips with my own issues

15. Danny RoseDanny Rose warming up

Photo by Tottenham Hotspur, Twitter

“England [football club] has been my salvation and I can’t thank the manager and the medical staff enough. It was really hard, and being referred to a doctor and psychologist by the Spurs club doctor helped me massively to cope.”

Professional footballer, England
Danny Rose opens up about depression after tragedy and tough year at Spurs

16. Paul PiercePaul Pierce on the court

Photo by Mark Runyon, Flickr

“I would tell everyone to get the help they need. My depression was bad — really bad. I never want to feel that way again.”

NBA small forward, US
Paul Pierce Discusses His Bout With Depression After 2000 Stabbing

17. Mardy FishMardy Fish warming up

Photo by Rahul&Gai, Flickr

Talking about it — and keeping the conversation going, and going, and going — is also part of that. Mental health is not a very easy thing to talk about in sports. It’s not perceived as very masculine. We’re so trained to be ‘mentally tough,’ in sports. To show weakness, we’re told, in so many words, is to deserve shame.

But I am here to show weakness. And I am not ashamed.

Professional tennis player, US
(On anxiety)
The Weight

18. Keyon DoolingKeyon Dooling with basketball

Photo by Keith AllisonWikimedia Commons

That’s where the healing truly began for me, because he [my psychiatrist] explained to me that there was a name for the feeling that I was dealing with. I was actually experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from my childhood.

NBA guard, US
(On sexual abuse, and PTSD)
Running from a Ghost

19. Mike ReillyMike Reilly with football

Photo by BC Lions, Twitter

“Learning how quickly actually talking with someone and getting some help resolved my issues just made me mad. It’s sad that I wasted a month of my life that I’ll never get back because I was too proud to talk with someone about it.

CFL quarterback, US
(On anxiety)
‘I let this thing own me’: Reilly opens up about mental health

20. Scott DarlingScott Darling in Blackhawks net

Photo by Scott Darling, Twitter

“For most of my life, I felt like I was alone. That’s part of the reason that I drank. I never felt connected to anyone, and I was always worried about what everyone thought of me. I can honestly say that every single guy in that Blackhawks room was a great friend to me.”

NHL goalie, US
(On anxiety)
Goodbye, Chicago

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